Vote Charlie!

Ruffie: Week 9

Posted at age 35.

We did a road trip to Wisconsin for about 2 weeks of the past 3. That provided some great new experiences for Ruffie, but it also broke some of my training consistency. I’ve been shifting focus as I’ve been doing more research on dog behavior as well.


The only run-run I did with Ruffie (or alone!) in the last few weeks was a 5 mile run in Wisconsin, on the newly paved Fox River Trail. That was a warm day, about 80 degrees F, and Ruffie got too tired to keep running after an hour. We walked 3 more miles after the 5 mile run, and he did a little running at the dog park we stopped at on the way home. But then he kept laying down in the shade once we were close to home. He seemed totally fine other than that he didn’t want to walk. I made sure he drank as much as he wanted, and we eventually made it home.

I’m still not sure what to make of Ruffie’s running. I’ve read how huskies can cover dozens of miles a day, but of course that’s in freezing temperatures normally. I expected I might be able to run every day with him eventually, after maybe a bit of ramping up since he hasn’t run much in the past probably. It seems I won’t be doing any 10+ mile runs with him anytime soon, so I probably need to start running on my own separately from him since my weekly mileage has been abysmal lately. I wish I could get into the habit of doing a few miles every morning, though given the amount of glass on the sidewalks in the blocks around me here in East Oakland, it’s not very fun or convenient to do short runs around the house.


I haven’t made any progress on the “seven basic commands” in the last few weeks. I’ve shifted focus to loose leash walking, after initially thinking I wouldn’t focus on that for fear of training out an innate drive of a husky. But after watching many YouTube videos on dog aggression, obedience, etc., I decided it’s probably best I get Ruffie to walk well behaved and maybe even work toward off leash.

Also as a side note, on the Wisconsin trip, I realized Ruffie does not “sit” or “down” well at all when he’s in a new environment or distracted. I found it nearly impossible to get him to sit with a bunch of people around, unless I physically bopped his rear end. I knew he wouldn’t respond as readily outside our house, but I was again surprised just how much he would ignore me!

Anyway, I switched Ruffie from the 1.5 inch strap collar he came with to a rolled leather one I got on Etsy, along with a matching 6 foot leather leash. I tried walking with just that setup and issuing corrections similar to demonstrated in a Beckman’s Dog Training video, but that was very tiring and I’m not sure it worked much. There was not much change by the end of the walk.

Next I got something similar to a “Gentle Leader”, the “HALTI Headcollar“. I chose that one because it looked a little more robust and I liked the design a bit better. And it’s been working pretty well! Ruffie resisted it for most of an initial 5 minute walk test I did. Then I put it away till the next day, and watched another video for some tips. I think the key was not letting Ruffie pull his nose to the ground so he could get leverage to pull at it with his front feet. After I pulled up a few times when he did that, he suddenly stopped trying to get it off, and we mostly successfully went on a full 30 minute walk immediately. Then we’ve been using it for several days now without issue. He still walks in front of me often, and I am increasing the “fake stops” to get him to pay attention to me more. I haven’t been super aggressive with it, but I may not need to.

I also got a super squeaky rubber duck to use for training “stay” with distraction, based on something I saw in another video. I’m only 2 days in with that, but it seems to have helped a lot already teaching Ruffie what the point of “stay” is.

Now that we’re back home, I’m resuming the short training session before meals, and will go from there.


There hasn’t been any change regarding the cats, but it’s been basically fine. He only charged at Kiko once recently when he was scratching at a post on the bedroom floor. Kiko has been trying to provoke him plenty of times, and is apparently not scared of Ruffie at all. Meanwhile Nori has stayed up high in my office or away.


Ruffie had a few exciting experiences with other dogs.

First, he met my nephew Maxx’s service dog Saver at the campground we stayed at for a few days in Door County, Wisconsin. There was a very small dog park there that we let them both off leash at, and it was very fun for both of them. They ran around like crazy and played in the rough and tumble style for about 15 minutes before they were tired out. We did that one more time before we had to go.

Then a few days later, Alan and I took Ruffie and Remi to the huge dog park near my Mom’s house in Wisconsin. Mitchell Park‘s dog exercise area must be 50 or 100 acres, mostly fenced in except the far side in the wetlands (which I discovered while testing Ruffie off leash…). Ruffie got to play with a few dogs there the first time we went, and he even came back to me without too much trouble every time I called him. He wasn’t listening to me perfectly, but came nonetheless. Then when just Ruffie and I went there after our run, I tested walking around the perimeter with him off leash. He didn’t interact with dogs much that time, but I got to see him basically staying near me on the trails. He did ignore me a few times, though, which made me keep him on leash after we got to the end of the trail. I will practice that more with him after we get more trained with loose leash walking.


I don’t think we made much progress on the “scared of people” front, though there have been a few people he didn’t seem scared of at all and let pet him without flinching. Mostly he veers away from people still on the sidewalk, although the longer we are out walking, the more he seems to ignore people around.